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Summer Appeal Revisited

Just a year ago I posted here about launching an appeal to your donors as summer approaches.

This concept is based on the assumption that you have a Christmas or holiday season appeal in November – December that’s tried and true. But you have been reluctant to send a second or third appeal to your file out of fear that you’ll turn your donors off and they’ll never give again.

Let’s get over that hurdle right here and now. If you have a compelling story to tell your donors will listen and respond. Well. A significant number will.  Some may be turned off, and tell you they only want to hear from you once a year and that’s at holiday season. That’s just fine. But that doesn’t speak for all your loyal donors who are ready to help if you’re ready to ask.  Here are some update pointers on the subject:

Summer is almost upon us, and the living is easy. In some respects.  If you don’t do a mid-year appeal to your donor list, I recommend that you consider doing it this summer.  And, if you took my advice last year and did a summer appeal, it’s time to do it again.

Most nonprofit organizations do their direct response (mail, e-mail, social media) appeal to donors near the Christmas holiday. The competition for your donors’ attention is quite strong at that time of year. Many people, particularly women age 55 and over, donate to five, six, seven charities and don’t necessarily give to the same group every year during that Thanksgiving – Christmas interval.

Summer provides an opportunity to appeal to your loyal lapsed donors.  Some of you might consider prospecting for new donors this time of year. But in this blog post, my focus is on messages about your mission and what you’re delivering to your clients/customers that your donors will welcome and might make a second gift.

Some things for you to consider in this appeal

  • Make it part of a newsletter, or follow a few weeks after your newsletter informing friends and donors what your nonprofit has been doing to deliver service to people who benefit from your mission
  • Focus the pitch on a message you used last holiday season, but which is worth reinforcing now
  • Tell a compelling story about how a particular individual benefited recently from a service you provide
  • In telling a story, be sure to either get written permission to tell it, or change the names to protect the innocent
  • If there are long-time and big-time donors, consider making the ask in person

For those donors who did contribute to your last annual campaign, start with a “thank you.” Let them know that you know they did in fact give within the last twelve months. That you’re not pulling a fast one, tricking them into a second gift. That the purpose is to do more. Because there are people out there who aren’t feeling the benefit of the easing recession. There are still people getting foreclosed on their home. There are still millions of people doing part-time work, looking forward to the economy improving and getting back to working full time.

Those of us fortunate enough to be working, or retired with a pension and a bit of a cushion, might be ready to do a bit more.

And you won’t know the answer ’til you ask.

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